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Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng speaks at a conference in Siem Reap yesterday. Photo supplied
Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng speaks at a conference in Siem Reap yesterday. Photo supplied

Employers warned on asbestos

Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng yesterday called on employers to pay heed to the health risks of asbestos, though no current legislation prohibits its widespread use.

“What is important is the health of the employee. So the ministry wants employers and enterprise owners to be aware of the disadvantages of asbestos, which could affect employees’ health. The employer must take care of the health risks,” Sam Heng said at a Ministry of Labour conference on the toxic substance in Siem Reap.

The country director of NGO Solidarity Centre, William Conklin, said yesterday that while employers have a responsibility to ensure workers’ health and safety, the government also has a responsibility to legislate.

“Ideally corporate governance and corporate responsibility would be enough, they’re certainly a necessary aspect. But they’re not a substitute for regulation. Basically, you don’t want to wait, with asbestos especially, until you get . . . people dying of cancer and asbestos-related diseases,” Conklin said.

Ministry of Labour representatives could not be reached for comment on the progress of a ban on the use of asbestos it proposed in August.

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